Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has come under severe attack from various interest groups for what they considered frivolous use of over N20 billion bailout funds to buy cars as gifts.
The governor recently spent almost N2 billion, according to various groups, to procure vehicles for himself and his bourgeoning political appointees.
The state’s internally generated revenue (IGR) has recently plummeted from N6 billion to less than N2 billion while its debt profile put at over N6 billion has increased to over N10 billion in a short time, Bello’s critics allege.
According to the Audu-Faleke Political Organisation, the latest expenditure by the governor was not only insensitive but frivolous.
The group in a statement signed by Duro Meseko, its Director of Media and Publicity, and obtained by our correspondent, said repeated appeals from various groups failed to convince Bello to stop the car purchase.
“We find it hard to believe that despite repeated admonitions by well meaning groups and individuals, the Yahaya Bello administration still went ahead on an unimaginable flight of fancy by purchasing expensive vehicles for use by some aides of the governor and the governor himself,” the group said.
The group, in explaining how Bello spent the money said, “Credible information reaching us indicates that Ford SUVs (jeeps) worth N18 million each and Ford Ranger Trucks (pickup van) worth N6 million each were purchased for the 21 local government caretaker chairmen in the state, totaling N504 million.
“This is in addition to the 70 Ford Ranger Trucks purportedly purchased for the police totaling N420 million and, of course, different from the N135 million bullet- proof Range Rover ordered for the governor and being shipped home presently,” the organisation further explained.
According to the group, “We are really sad with the way our commonwealth in Kogi is being managed under the leadership of Yahaya Bello. Even the president of the country, Muhammadu Buhari, has not changed his official car since he assumed office. What happened to the official vehicles in these local governments?” asked the group.
The group which claimed to have obtained information that the government bought a BMW and G-Wagon Mercedes Benz as official vehicles for the chief of staff to the governor, serviced and maintained by Coscharis Motors, Abuja, added that “the socio-economic plight of Kogi people is frightening, with unpaid salaries up to the roof while basic amenities have become a mirage. Should the government not have been more prudent in the allocation of the state’s scarce resources instead of recklessly wasting it? The time has come for all men of conscience and goodwill to call Alhaji Yahaya Bello to order,” the group added.
Another group, which called itself Kogi Renaissance, said it is reprehensible in the least at this era of belt tightening for a governor who has failed to pay workers and is downsizing to embark on such costly and self-serving project.
Speaking with our correspondent on phone in Abuja, the group’s spokesman, Mr Ahmed Isa, denounced the governor’s action, saying he is erecting clear recipes for anarchy in the state.
Citing the recent committee set up by the state’s chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Isa said, “The governor’s poor showing was what led to the party to set up an investigative team so as to enable him retrace his step. Unfortunately, he has continued in that same path of retrogression.
“As we speak, the state’s IGR is dropping drastically. Insecurity is at alarming rate while businesses are shutting down operations. The state government is downsizing workers even as he is heaping debt on the state. The man is a bundle of confusion and lacks foresight to be a governor.
“He is causing confusion in the state Assembly leaving his main role. Despite repeated calls for him to channel the bailout funds he got from the Federal Government to pay salaries and embark on useful project he is busy buying G-Wagon and other exotic cars.
“One thing is that if he continues like this, he would be voted out during his second term bid,” Isa warned.